County should adopt background checks [Letter]

I read with great concern the article regarding background checks for those involved in Baltimore County recreational programs ("Balto. Co. eyes rec aide checks," April 22). How much does County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and some of the county council think is too much to pay to lessen the chance of a child being raped or sexually molested — $250,000, $500,000, $1 million? Yes, no system of checks is 100 percent reliable, but reducing any risk is worth the expense. What if it is your son or daughter who is raped or sexually molested by a coach or recreation volunteer or staff? I dare to say you would be lining up with a lawyer in court to hold the county accountable. I know I would.

Has Mr. Kamenetz or any of the council members had to deal with a child or adolescent being raped? I served over 12 years as a child protective investigator, case manager of foster children and mental health therapist treating foster children and adolescents. I investigated the rape of 9-year-old Suzy (that's a pseudonym). I also investigated many other abuses of sexual molestation and rape. Suzy was raped by a foster dad while the foster parents waited for national fingerprint background checks. He was granted provisional license (which was illegal) and Suzy was under care of this "provisional license." It was not until two years after the rape that it was discovered he had previously raped and molested a girl in another state and served prison time. Subsequently, the foster parent was convicted on felony rape charges.

Tragically this experience severely injured Suzy's mental health. She has been in and out of mental health facilities and was awarded $500,000 in a federal lawsuit. Neither the mental health treatment or the award from the lawsuit could fix the damage that Suzy has suffered. I plead with the Baltimore County Council to without delay pass a strong and effective child protection law that requires all those exposed to activities with children and adolescents be subject to fingerprint background checks on the local, state and national level.

Jonathan Reidy, Towson

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